The Magic Touch(7)

By: Dara England


His head ached and he was no longer sure if it was the blow to the head or this whole strange situation that was causing the pain.

“I thought maybe last night was just a dream,” he admitted. “I figured my imagination had conjured you up.”

“Well, that’s very flattering of you, Danny. But, between the two of us, I don’t think your imagination has ever been quite this creative. Even as a kid you didn’t invent imaginary friends like most children do.”

“Would you stop doing that?” he asked. “Referring to my childhood as if you were sitting around even then, watching me grow up.”

“But I was.”

“I know, I know. But I’m not exactly comfortable hearing you talk about little boy Danny like some doting old aunt. Especially not when you’re walking around like…” He let his words trail off and gestured at her partially bared figure.

She hesitated. “Oh, I see. I didn’t mean to make you feel weird.”

“Weird isn’t exactly the word I would use.”

“Okay, okay, I get you. Just give me five minutes to make myself more godmotherly. You better grab the tarts before they burn.”

And with that, she disappeared into the bedroom.

She returned quickly, clothed in a different outfit from the one she had been wearing yesterday. He decided not to ask. For all he knew she had an entire wardrobe shrunk down to fit into that tiny handbag of hers. Or maybe she just waved her wand and anything she wanted appeared. He felt queasy thinking about it.

Today she’d gone for an entirely different look from yesterday’s. She wore a flowing green, ankle-length dress with no sleeves. Leather sandals were on her feet and her curly hair was worn loose, with the top half pulled back into a long side-braid. A beaded leather thong was worked into the braid and between that and the many charms dangling from her wrists and ankles she made a gentle, jingling noise as she walked, reminding him of that children’s rhyme “Rings on her fingers and bells on her toes.” There was a thick string around her neck from which a peace-sign pendant dangled between her breasts. He decided she looked like someone who should be playing bongo drums in the park.

“Are all fairy godmothers like this?” He indicated the jewelry.

“What? Peace-lovers? Depends on the godmother. Personally I wake up with a different mood for every day and I dress to fit it. But we all have personalities and preferences as varied as regular people, you know. We’ve even got our mafia fairies.”

He snorted a laugh that died the instant his gaze fell on the microwave clock behind her. The large blue numbers shot an unpleasant jolt through him.

“Ten o’clock! Why didn’t you tell me it was so late? I should have been at work hours ago.”

She shrugged. “You seemed like you needed time to relax.”

“Relax?” he demanded over his shoulder, scrambling into the living room. “With the department downsizing and my boss looking for the next weak link to cut, do you think I can afford to relax?”

He didn’t wait for an answer. Where were his shoes? There was no time for a shave, no time to change out of the rumpled clothing he’d slept in. There were the shoes. Triumphantly snagging them out from under the edge of the sofa, he hastily dragged them on before grabbing his cell phone. Snatching his car keys from a hook on the wall, he was halfway out the front door, having all but forgotten the woman he’d left behind in the kitchen.

She called out to him, “You know, I was thinking you might send Charlotte some roses today.”

That brought him back. “Whoa, hold on there.” He fixed her with a glare. “I’m pretty sure I’ve said this before, but just to reiterate… stay out of my business. And keep away from Charlotte. I’ll make up with her in my own time and my own way.”

She shrugged. “Suit yourself. Just don’t leave it so long she thinks you’re going to let her go without a fight. Anyway, have a good day. See you for lunch.”

He frowned. “I don’t think so, lady. I’ve gotta work through my lunch break if I want to make up for the lost time.”

She didn’t seem to hear that last part. “I prefer Ambrielle to “lady”. Meet you in the park across from work. I’ll bring Chinese. You know you love it.”